As we’ve all likely seen with our own eyes, the number of artists in Bushwick has gone up quite a bit over the past decade and a half. But the Center for an Urban Future (CUF) has crunched the numbers and revealed, among other things, that Bushwick has seen the greatest increase in number of artists of any NYC neighborhood.
How big of an increase? A whopping 1116 percent to 1,824. That’s not a typo. That increase, though, still puts Bushwick at number four on the list of neighborhoods with the most artists. Here’s the top 10:
Park Slope/Carroll Gardens (2,602)
Brooklyn Heights/Fort Greene (2,445)
North Crown Heights/Prospect Heights (1,278)
Bedford Stuyvesant (1,061)
Sunset Park (993)
Borough Park (507)
According to CUF, “Citywide, the ranks of artists swelled to 56,268 in 2015, an all-time high, marking a 17.4 percent increase since 2000.” But Manhattan as a borough lost 10 percent of its artist population over that same period.
A 2015 CUF report found that rents in “more creative” neighborhoods increased at a greater pace than rents in other areas. And so if more artists means higher rents, the costs for art spaces (studios, galleries, performance venues) all go up as well.
CUF contends: “As artists have spread out across the city, they often find themselves living further from the work spaces, exhibition spaces, and collaborators on which their work relies. At the same time, skyrocketing housing costs, which have led to the artistic diaspora, have also put a squeeze on studios, venues, and performance spaces.”
Their solution? Encouraging the city to make public school spaces available to artists since they lay dormant in the afternoons and over the summers. Across the 1,800 schools within NYC’s system there are over 5,600 instruction spaces for visual arts, music, theater, dance, and film.
CUF suggests that “opening up these spaces to local artists could help address the massive need for studio space while strengthening arts education and exposure in neighborhoods and schools that could benefit enormously from a more deeply embedded arts community.”
It’s an interesting solution to a space problem which continues to force artists to move around to where rents are cheap. Perhaps if artists had access to studio and rehearsal space in classes serving double-duty, not only would they be more involved in the community, but they might be able to stay in the neighborhood and not get priced out.
It’s a theory, at least.